The Waitangi Treaty Groundstakes you on a journey through New Zealand’s past, telling you the story of the coming together of Maori and Pakeha to generate our modern identity. For anyone serious about understanding New Zealand’s past, Waitangi is not to be missed.
There is a lovely coastal walk and a great lunch spot at Whare Waka Café. You will also find the Bay of Islands Yacht Club here, the Copthorne Hotel, the Waitangi Golf Club and the start of the Haruru Falls Track, a 5km walking track that takes you up river to the falls themselves.
On what is a nation based but the agreements of its peoples? In the case of New Zealand, a bi-cultural country of Maori tribes (iwi) and British settlers this is the agreement between Maori chiefs and the British Crown known as the Treaty of Waitangi.
At the same time as establishing British law in New Zealand, the Treaty guaranteed Maori authority over their land and culture. The British Government sent Captain William Hobson to New Zealand with the mission of acquiring sovereignty of the country by way of a treaty.
This was duly drawn up, translated and signed by 43 Northland chiefs followed by over 500 other Maori chiefs in 1840. The Treaty of Waitangi remains central to New Zealand law and society.
With two language versions; Maori and English, written and translated by people with little or no legal know-how, these versions differ to such an extent that there have been problems of interpretation.
For example, in regard to sovereignty the English version states that Maori surrender their 'kawanatanga' (sovereignty) and transfer power to the British Crown while the Maori version implies a sharing of power.
Some may ask which version of the Treaty is the correct one. The answer is both. Since two versions were signed, both are taken into account and regard is given to each document when decisions are being made.